Both warmly funny and surprisingly touching, the one-off 90-minute BBC comedy Cruise of the Gods
(2002) unites the twin comic talents of Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan for the first time. Brydon, whose Marion & Geoff
brought him instant cult status and critical acclaim, plays Andy Van Allen, a washed-up actor who once enjoyed celebrity as the star of a TV science-fiction series but who is now down on his luck as a hotel porter. Desperate to rescue his self-esteem, but equally desperate to conceal his failure, he reluctantly embarks on a Mediterranean cruise for die-hard fans of the old show organised by uber-nerd Jeff Monks (David Walliams). To compound his humiliation, Van Allan's one-time costar, Nick Lee (Coogan), now a Hollywood big shot thanks to his starring role in Sherlock Holmes in Miami
, gatecrashes the trip.
Elements of both Marion & Geoff's agonising pathos and the squirm-inducing embarrassment of I'm Alan Partridge feature prominently here as the merciless portrayal of geeky fandom slowly gives way to a more gentle, affectionate portrait of people whose lives were inexplicably touched by the fantastically awful Children of Castor (imagine a camp cross between Blake's 7 and The Tomorrow People). Unlike the sympathetically pathetic ex-husband of Marion, here Brydon plays a cruelly cynical and embittered character, whose self-loathing contrasts painfully with the annoying ebullience of Coogan's superstar. The supporting cast are all a delight, too: witness lugubrious Philip Jackson, as alcoholic writer Hugh Bispham, clashing hilariously with Walliams' deadly earnest super-fan over the interpretation of names in the show, which turn out to be nothing more cryptic than anagrams of Bispham's favourite curries. James Corden and Helen Coker are emotionally fragile followers whose lives intertwine unexpectedly with their heroes, while Brian Conley and Jack Jones gamely provide cameos. --Mark Walker
Andy Van Allen, former hero of a cult 1980s futuristic TV show is now a washed-up, bitter failure of a hotel porter, unlike his co-star, Nick Lee, who went on to fame and fortune in the USA. Out of the blue, Andy receives an unusual offer: the show's fan club has organised a 'celebrity cruise' and wants Andy to attend as the principal celebrity. Not only would this be the first holiday Andy's had for years, but they're offering serious money into the bargain. Once aboard, however, the paradise cruise is far from plain sailing. The combination of Andy's cynicism and his fans' adoration is bad enough to start with but unbeknown to him the cruise is set with a collision course with his mega-successful former co-star, Lee. With his world spinning out of control, can Andy finally get a grip, and become a true hero for his people?
DVD Special Features:
- Deleted scenes (with commentary)
- Children of Castor Sequence Commentary with Declan Lowney (Director), Alison MacPhail (Producer) and Tim Firth (Writer)
- 30 minute video diary
- Photo gallery
- Scene selection
- Alternative Ending
Running Time: 90 minutes approx.